RAWALPINDI: After some 54 hours, Pakistan partially opened four of its airports for flight operations on March 1. The facilities were made available at 6pm on Friday for international and domestic routes, and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) directed its staff to ensure maximum presence.
However, other airports — including Lahore, Sialkot, and Multan — are slated to be opened for flight operations on March 4 at 1pm.
On Friday, the CAA issued a fresh notice to airmen (NOTAM) stating that the country’s airspace will remain closed till March 4, except for Karachi International Airport, Peshawar International Airport, Quetta International Airport and Islamabad International Airport — with restricted entry and exit. Following the CAA’s fresh NOTAM, the managers of the four international airports referred to a circular saying that flight operations had become operational on March 1. “It is expected that there will be a backlog of passengers,” says the circular. “To smoothly manage operations, the management would require the presence of the staff and officers.”
Soon after flight operations were resumed, a Serene Air flight, which is a privately owned airline, took off from Islamabad airport with 156 passengers on board, at about 6:10pm. However, sources say that due to the confusion, the number of passengers was lower that the seating capacity of the plane.
Pakistan closed its airspace at 12.30 pm on Wednesday due to the prevailing security situation with India, leaving thousands of air travellers affected due to the cancellation of their flights.
From the Islamabad International Airport, PIA flight PK-261 was scheduled to depart for Abu Dhabi at 11 pm, while PK-233 was slated for Dubai at 12.30 am and Air Blue flight PA-272 for Jeddah at 11 am (today).
PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar told Dawn that the airline resumed normal flight operations, with PK-370 from Karachi to Islamabad that departed at 7pm on Friday. He added that subsequently, three more flights are to depart for Jeddah, Madina and Dubai, all from Karachi. In line with the instructions of federal aviation minister Mian Soomro, Mr Tajwar explained, airline CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik has been supervising flight operations. “Though it is a daunting task to accommodate stranded passengers, PIA management will facilitate all its passengers and will take care of them,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019